Why Remote Investigations Are Here to Stay
Here we are, almost exactly three years from the start of the pandemic, and ‘remote’ is the name of the game now. We’ve realized the benefits of remote work in all aspects of our lives. We have even collectively dipped our toes into remote investigations, remote hearings, remote courtroom testimony, and remote arbitrations. We’ve come a long way. We also predict that remote investigations will be here to stay. Here’s why.
Credibility can still be assessed remotely
At the beginning of the pandemic, the purported downside to remote investigations was the presumed inability to assess credibility through a screen. We often receive this question: “How are you going to assess credibility when you can’t be in the same room as the person, and can’t look them in the eyes?”
This speaks to an old way of thinking about assessing credibility. Whether a person shifts in their chair, looks away from you, or won’t make eye contact, a lot of these things are not reliable indicators (read: He Said, She Said).
Investigators assess credibility based on the following elements:
- The content of what people say
- The tone in their voice
- The language that they use
- The demeanor they present
- The consistency of what they say versus what other people say (or what the evidence shows).
These are the most concrete ways to assess credibility, among others. Luckily, remote investigations do not eliminate the ability to do these things. So when we talk about the ability to assess credibility, remote investigations are not an obstacle for the interviewer to do a proper interview.
Now, that doesn’t mean all investigations can and should be remote. There are times where being face-to-face in the same room with somebody is important. Of course there are certain types of cases where one would want to meet in person with somebody. However, those investigations are relatively few. When we are conducting investigations, we can usually do it remotely.
Younger generations entering the workforce are more open to using technology in different ways
To be sure, remote investigations will takes some preparation to master. We have to make sure that we understand our technology, ensure the other person understands their technology, and deal with issues of confidentiality. (Read: Preventing Breaches of Confidentiality.) But the remote investigation is here to stay.
In our experience, the involved parties are happier because investigations can get done more quickly and they can be more comfortable. This is especially true for younger generations just entering the workforce. Gen Z, for instance, is more open to technology and adaptations than previous generations. They also expect their employers to embrace the latest if it will help them be productive.
Increases accessibility of quality investigators in remote communities
Remote investigations also have positive socio-environmental impacts. At Benard + Associates, we have been able to leverage the remote investigation in a way that’s allowed us to conduct investigations from far away. These are investigations we might not other otherwise have been able to do because of geographic constraints. Especially for people who live in remote communities, they are getting better access to investigators without compromising quality (where they often had to settle for a different standard).